Coexistence 203: How To Stay Legally Safe

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Coexistence 202: Conflicts

DISCLAIMER: None of this is legal advice. Consult an attorney if you want actual legal advice. This is all simply common sense or ideas heard from others.

Generally, by being a decent human being you avoid most legal situations

  • The court system is made for people who break laws, and so your innocence is the best legal defense possible
  • Likable people are less likely to be dragged into court
  • Being fair and just with everyone will mean that the only people who bring you into a legal trial have an unfair bias against you
  • Historically, being discriminated against in court isn’t uncommon, but it’s less frequent than people who actually deserve the law’s punishment

Being in public has innate risks

  • To have an open container of alcohol in public is considered public drunkenness, even if you aren’t drinking it
  • If you’re sleeping in your car while drunk, don’t let the keys stay in the ignition or else it’s a DUI
  • It’s illegal to use someone’s public WiFi network without their permission
  • If you ever physically touch anyone, even a child, it can be counted as assault if someone presses charges
  • Splashing a drink on someone in anger can be counted as battery if someone presses charges

Be careful when dealing with any official authorities, including police

  • Be careful what you say
    • You are rarely under obligation to answer a police officer’s questions when you’re stopped in the street
      • This is a good idea to enforce, since the police often see themselves as part of the prosecutor’s team, even when you’re not defending yourself
    • In the US, you have to say your name and what you are doing at the present moment, but you don’t have to say anything else
      • If they press the matter, you can say “I want a lawyer”
      • Don’t plead the Fifth, since it is now built to favor the police based on the timing that you plead it
    • It’s dangerous to tell them any information at all because it can implicate you unintentionally
      • Any mistakes in retelling what happened to them will be counted against you
      • The officer may misremember the information you say
      • You may be tricked into saying the wrong things by cops that have no obligation to tell you the truth
      • Your statements to police could mix with faulty eyewitness accounts, poor testimonies and bad luck to convict you of a serious crime
  • When driving, try to avoid breaking any traffic laws
    • Use your blinkers, even if you don’t think anyone is watching
    • Pay attention to long straightaways that cops hide around to track speeding drivers
    • Pay attention to when truck drivers slow down, since they communicate police presence via CB radio
    • Use an app like Waze to observe where police often scope out for traffic violations
  • If you are ever pulled over by the police
    • Turn on the interior lights to show you have nothing to hide
    • Keep your hands visible at all times
    • Tell them when you are grabbing something and don’t make any sudden movements
  • Try to avoid calling 911 if it’s not an emergency and dial 311 instead

Identity theft is easily avoidable if you follow a few rules

  • Make sure your computer is free of viruses or trojans
  • When using an ATM
    • Check for any cameras above that can capture your PIN
    • Wiggle the card scanner to see if it was tampered with
    • Wiggle the keypad to see if it’s fake

There are many small ways to stay out of court

  • Avoid conflicts of interest
    • Mixing personal and business
    • Loaning or borrowing from clients
    • Investing in questionable deals
    • Discriminating for or against someone
  • Learn to set good boundaries with people
    • Don’t be quick to apologize, since it is unintentional admission of guilt
    • Don’t disclose unnecessary information, since it can be used for things like slander, false advertising, etc
    • Manage expectations at the outset and throughout your engagement with them
      • Only make promises and put into writing what you can fulfill
      • Make predictions with a constant disclaimer that there are no true promises
      • If anything changes, notify everyone involved immediately
    • Always have documentation of what was agreed upon and what was performed
      • Be vigilant for a drift from the agreed terms
      • Append or amend the signed documentation to be certain that everyone is still in their scope of duty
      • Include a mediation clause or limitation of liability clause in all engagements
  • Learn what a reasonable cost for the services and goods you’re performing or requesting
    • If you are overpaying, it’s best to learn from it than risk paying a lot of legal fees to regain your losses
    • Be cautious of emerging high-risk areas, especially new ventures or small operations
  • Have the expertise and support to provide what you offer
    • Be careful moving out of your comfort zone to “round out” your service capacity
    • Be sure you have a good attorney with a specialization in your needed legal coverage
  • Pay attention to who will be looking at the matter
    • Many lawsuits are from parties-in-interest who are not directly making the agreement
    • Many attorneys will make work for themselves by pursuing illegitimate cases that they can change conditions to help them win over
  • Trust others, but verify who they are
    • Screen people and do background checks, there may be a scary reason someone is arranging something with you
  • If you know someone tends to take screenshots of conversations in messenger apps, send them audio recordings instead

When you do have to go to court, there are ways to make it easier

  • If you get sued, you can often go through settlement instead
  • A lawsuit is meant to recover damages, and it can be hard to prove non-material damages like emotional damage or psychological damage
    • People go into lawsuits out of a desire for justice, and the ones who do it to make money have no idea what they’re doing
    • Never sue for fees, it’s not worth the cost

There are simple advantages of the legal environment you can take advantage of

  • Traffic laws aren’t applicable on private property, which includes parking lots
  • Stop signs are not legally enforced unless there is a sticker on the back
  • Handicapped parking signs on the ground don’t matter unless they have signs with them
  • With the exception of breaking and entering (such as climbing a fence), private property signs hold no legal repercussions for not honoring them
  • For a very small fee you can register your dog as an “emotional support animal” and landlords can’t discriminate when renting to you
  • If your car is about to get towed jump inside it, since the tow truck is legally kidnapping you if they continue
  • To decrease the risks of parking tickets when you park illegally, keep the envelope from a parking ticket and place it under your windshield wipers
Next: Coexistence 301: How To Write